For Educators: Environmental Justice Movement

Activity 2: The Birth of the Environmental Justice Movement: Warren County, North Carolina


Documents Needed:

Web Resources Needed:

Materials Needed:

18 x 24 Poster board (8 sheets)
Markers in assorted colors
Digital camera

Reading and Analyzing Documents:
Divide the students into small groups. Share with each group a copy of H.R. 843, the Case Study of Warren County, and the Warren County fact gathering worksheet. Ask the students to review the materials by responding to the questions on the worksheet. Tell the students that the information they gather will be used later to prepare a poster display and/or write an op-ed essay about pollution in your community.

Research and Presentation (Compare and Contrast):
After the students have completed the worksheet, invite them to explore their school grounds, neighborhood, community or city for areas that may be posing an environmental hazard. Ask them to record what they see using the digital camera. You should also encourage the students to search on the Internet for additional information about hazards like water quality and waste management in their community and what the local or state governments are doing to correct the problem. Using the information and images they have gathered, have each group prepare a poster to distinguish between what happened in Warren County, NC and what’s happening in their community's environment today.

Extended Activity 1: Research and Writing

Prepare an Article for a Newspaper or an Op-Ed essay
Working in small groups, ask the students to prepare a newspaper article or op-ed essay about environmental issues in their community. Encourage them to send their writings to their area newspaper or local, state, and federal officials to inform them about their personal concerns and interest in improving their community's environment.

Extended Activity 2: Online Research and Mapping

Earth Mapping to Track Environmental Damage
The Environmental Protection Agency provides an online service that allows anyone to find industrial facilities located near their home, workplace or schools. The EPA Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Explorer allows users to learn about the pollution profiles of each facility, including which pollutants are generated and how the facility handles them. You can also compare the performance of the facilities in your community to similar facilities locally, nationally, and now Canada and Mexico.

Using the third column of the activity worksheet, ask the students to do local and national research using this tool to learn what the environmental hazards are, where people are most effected and what, if anything, is being done about it. Encourage students to map the locations of these facilities or hazards using Google Maps or Google Earth to see where the facilities are located in relationship to their homes and school.

Ask the students to explore the worksheet's sample list of environmental hazards; identify what and where it is happening and if it is impacting other parts of the country (can environmental hazards in the Atlantic Ocean near New York City effect the beaches of Nova Scotia in Canada? or How does the use of pesticide for growing fruits and vegetable effects the soil and water where it is grown and your health when eaten?)

additional information and links.